Sullivan says U.S. has started communicating with Iran over detained Americans

FILE PHOTO: White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan delivers remarks during a press briefing inside the White House in Washington, U.S., February 4, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday the United State had begun to communicate with Iran over the country’s detention of American citizens.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in early February that the United States was committed to seeking “the release of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad,” without mentioning Iran.

Asked if the Biden administration had started hostage negotiations with Iran over a number of America citizens being held in the country, Sullivan told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that the issue was a “complete and utter outrage”.

“We have begun to communicate with the Iranians on this issue,” Sullivan said.

“We will not accept a long term proposition where they continue to hold Americans in an unjust and unlawful manner,” he said.

Sullivan said President Joe Biden was “determined” to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and that diplomacy was the best way to do that.

“Iran has not yet responded,” Sullivan said, regarding the U.S. willingness to start talks on a return to the 2015 nuclear deal agreed between Tehran and several world powers.

Reporting by Michael Martina and Chris Sanders; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Daniel Wallis